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The Tao of the Tree Climb
Looking for the perfect summer escape? Get higher, baby

You located the perfect tree, plotted the course, and exerted yourself, if ever so slightly, upon the methodical ascent. You added a few fresh scratches to your shins and wrists, and—if you’ve climbed high enough—there’s a slight burn in your shoulders and thighs. From here you can stretch out your legs or pop a squat or just let ’em dangle; either way, you’re up there. You’ve climbed a tree, quite possibly the most perfect summertime activity regardless of your mood or company.

Seriously, where better to cool out on a sweltering summer afternoon than splayed out in the branches of an easily accessible tree? Sure, you’ll break a sweat, but once you’re up there, even the slightest breeze that passes will spread a fine chill over your dermis. As for that burning, bastard sun, eff it; you’ll be encased in shade! And if a breeze doesn’t exist and the shade doesn’t suffice, there’s always the frosty beverage you carefully lodged into your back pocket—doubly satisfactory, first just being a cold beverage on a summer’s day and then again for being unspilled, stowed goods.

Looking for a hazy-day activity to kill some time with a new flame? Consider the possibilities of furthering the courtship of a new romance in the branches of a favorite climbing tree. There’s the lazy walk down the path or through the fields to your carefully selected, secluded spot. Then there’s all the hoisting, pushing and pulling as the two of you make your way into the canopy. Now that you’re ready to settle, there is the careful perching and stretching of limbs to ensure that your bared summertime flesh will touch as you while the hours away.

And if love isn’t in the stars, there’s no better place to pine away than the canopy of an oak tree. Trust that your somber ascent will be well worth the effort: Once perched in your tree branches, you’ll be shielded from the world, and the whistles and whispers of the breeze through the leaves will drown out the noises from all that is below—and maybe even the clamor in your head. Left alone with your thoughts, you can ruminate on suicide, death and destruction. Or just relax.

Feeling wily and wishing to act out as a total punk-ass? Trees make great places to station oneself for a day of fuckerdom. There’s the obvious, juvenile joy to be had from shouting profanities at the top of your lungs or calling people names from a secluded location. A well- foliated tree in a populated area makes a great roost for aerial assaults with little branches or fragments of bark. Sure, you could kill a couple hours like that. Or you could get creative. It is no small wonder how realistically similar to bird droppings the partially chewed chunk of Hershey’s Cookies & Cream candy bar looks. A passerby caught unaware and a well-aimed spit and . . . well, I’ll just let you try it yourself.

When your time in the tree is done, there is still adventure to be had in the dismount. Oh, the anxiety and care of the tentative steps back down, always wondering why the distance between the steps seem so much more heading back to the ground than on the way up. Then you’ve reached the last branch and it’s decision time: Step right off or wiggle your way into a dangle so you can drop from a lesser height. Either way, woe is the mighty shoe shock upon returning to ground!

It’s patently good advice, my friends: Take some time this summer to find a tree and make your way to the top. I hear they’re in season.

—Travis Durfee

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